Ball State snaps women's basketball's four-game win streak, 67-58

GO HUSKIES
GO HUSKIES

GO HUSKIES
February 5, 2003

FINAL SCORE: BALL STATE 67, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 58

Box score

DeKALB, IL---Tamara Bowie scored a game-high 20 points as Ball State defeated Northern Illinois 67-58 in Mid-American Conference women's basketball action here Wednesday (Feb. 5).

Johna Goff added 16 points for the Cardinals, who snapped NIU's season-best four-game winning streak. BSU improved to 14-5 overall and grabbed a share of the MAC West Division lead at 8-1 in the conference, while the Huskies dropped to 9-11 overall with a 5-4 ledger in the league. Jennifer Youngblood (Rock Island) led Northern Illinois with 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for her 26th career "double-double."

"Turnovers were a key tonight," NIU coach Carol Hammerle said of her team's 19 miscues. "I thought we had a good game plan, but we gave up easy baskets in the first half and had 11 turnovers at halftime. Then we got to within three points and had two more turnovers. That was huge. You can't do that against a good team like Ball State."

The first 12 minutes turned into a seesaw contest featuring four ties and seven lead changes before the Cardinals asserted control. Goff and Jessica Reiter each canned three-pointers during a 10-0 run to give BSU a 28-20 advantage, with Youngblood finally ending a 4:18 drought with her three-point play. The Huskies eventually closed to within four but a quick flurry gave the visitors a 36-27 cushion at intermission. Bowie led all scorers with 14 points at the break.

The lead quickly swelled into double digits and the Cardinals stretched the margin to 50-38 on Reiter's driving lay-up with 12:18 to play. Youngblood sparked a Northern Illinois rally with back-to-back baskets and Joi Scott's (Reynoldsburg, OH) three-point play trimmed the gap to 50-47. Dana Collins missed two free throws on the visitors' next possession, but Reiter gathered an offensive rebound and fed Bowie for a lay-up to re-claim control.

NIU made one last comeback attempt when Youngblood scored on a rebound putback and Kristan Knake (Marengo) added a pair of free throws to bring the hosts within 56-52 at the 5:30 mark. But that was NIU's last point for 3:27 as the Huskies committed turnovers on their next two possessions. Ball State ran off six unanswered points and never looked back.

"Ball State played very physical, and we got soft," Hammerle said. "We didn't stay as intense as we needed to."

Knake had nine points and three assists in 21 minutes, her first action since suffering a second-degree sprain to her left ankle versus Marshall on Jan. 25. She missed most of that game and all of the following two contests.

Youngblood logged her seventh "double-double" of the season, matching Bowie for the MAC lead in that category. In seven career meetings, the Rock Island native has averaged 17.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game with four "double-doubles."

"Jennifer and Tamara match up well. Jennifer has strengths that are Tamara's weaknesses, and vice versa," BSU coach Tracy Roller said of the battle between two of the league's top post players. "When they go head-to-head, it's good because each one has to work on her weakness. It's fun to watch them play each other. I think Tamara had the edge in the first half (when she scored 14 points), but Jennifer had the edge in the second."

Scott added 13 points---ten in the second half---plus ten boards for her second consecutive "double-double." The Reynoldsburg, OH, native had her first such outing with 23 points and 11 caroms Saturday (Jan. 28) at Bowling Green State. In nine MAC games, she is averaging 13.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.

"It's very important for us to have someone like Joi in the post because other then other teams have someone else to focus on," Youngblood said of the freshman's emergence of late. "She is a secret weapon, and when other teams come to guard her, it frees things up for other players."

Rachel Sillar (Plainfield) scored a career-best eight points on four-of-six shooting and also registered four assists plus four steals in 27 minutes. Unfortunately, the rest of NIU's perimeter players combined for 8-for-33 accuracy from the floor. As a team, Northern Illinois shot just 36 percent (24-of-66).

Ball State hit 26 of 50 shots (52 percent) including 59.1 percent (13-of-22) accuracy in the second half, overcoming the hosts' 35-34 rebounding advantage. Reiter had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Cardinals.

The Huskies attempt to start a new streak Sunday (Feb. 9) when they visit the University at Buffalo for a 4 p.m. (EST) matinee. UB dropped to 11-8 overall and 3-5 in the conference with a 71-56 loss at Kent State on Wednesday.

-30- -- Copy by Robert Hester